tv MSNBC Live With Steve Kornacki MSNBC April 12, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
think raised some eyebrows given the high hopes there were especially in moscow that donald trump's election would lead to better relations. i think that cruise missile attack has changed views. donald trump and russian newspapers in the last few days have been called a warmonger. it's almost as if the bromance is finished before the two men have even had a chance to meet. and, you know, before rex tillerson and sergey lavrov met this morning, vladimir putin came up with some very, very strong words. you know, not just that relations were at a low, but saying on chemical weapons, there is absolutely no evidence that syrian forces were responsible for those keck call weapons attacks. of course, the u.s. is citing its own intelligence evidence that russia -- that, sorry, that syria was responsible, so, you know, the gulf between these two countries is as wide as it's ever been. as wide as i ever remember it. when putin says relations are --
have degraded under trump, remember what his relationship was like with barack obama. so for him to say that about donald trump doesn't bode well for the future. brian? >> bill neely. thank you. we're fortunate to have you there for us. early evening moscow time. you saw, perhaps, the president's notes being delivered to the podium. we see his head of the council of economic advisers m cohn arriving with otherhite house aides who will file into the seats in the front row. we're probably just a few minutes away from the start of this, but enough time for us to ask our other white house correspondent, kristen welker, kristen, we're going to be talking about the u.s./european relationship. we should tell folks a little bit about the general secretary of nato, he is not from a military background, and economist by trade, two time
foreign minister of norway. this will focus attention on europe, probably the russia threat and the other front, kristen, that this white house is dealing with. we've had mixed messages, again, in the last 24 hours. happens to be north korea. the world is a busy and dangerous place. >> reporter: it is. that's the other big foreign policy crisis for this president. president trump had a conversation with the president of china last night and cast it as a productive conversation, he said as they deal with menacing north korea. the first time we heard him describe north korea as a menace. he did that because of recent provocations by north korea. it launched another nuclear test. there are concerns it could, in fact, launch a sixth nuclear test. so president trump aiming to take a tough tone with china to
get china to ramp up the pressure on north korea. so far, brian, there haven't been any tangible results as it relates to that. we know the two leaders also met last week in mar-a-lago. clearly the president didn't feel as though they were on the same page when it came to north kor korea. what we saw in the wake of the meeting last week was a host ofg if china doesn't act, the united states is prepared to act alone. we pressed sean spicer, press secretary, on what specifically does that mean? does that mean military action, does that mean sanctions? so far he hasn't filled in those blanks. those are among the questions that president trump will be asked today. i would anticipate. as it relates to russia, brian, to underscore this point about menti mixed messaging, we've heard tough talk from top officials within this administration, the secretary of state, u.n. ambassador, nikki haley. we haven't really heard the president, himself, take a
really strong tone when it comes to russia. will he do that today? we know obviously that's going to likely be issue number one for the press conference, brian. >> kristen welker, thank you so much. for those joiningous coverage, here come the two, the president and nato secretary general. >> thank you. secretary general, it's a pleasure to welcome you do the white house spaesespecially at an important moment in our great alliance. i also want to acknowledge the great work being done by our secretary of state rex tillerson to strengthen the nato alliance as well as the secretary's trip to moscow to promote the security interests of the united states and its allies. he did a terrific job.
just watch parts of it. did an absolutely terrific job. 68 years ago this month, not far from where we are gathered today, president harry truman spoke the signs up the north atlantic treaty. in the nearly seven decades since harry truman spoke those words, the nato alliance as been the bull work of international peace and security. nato allies defeated communism and liberated the captive nations of the cold war. they secured the longest period of unbroken peace that europe has ever known. this enduring partnership is rooted out of so many different things but our common security is always number one.
and our common devotion to human dignity and freedom. since 1949, the nato member states have more than double d e increasing from 12 to 28 . on monday, i signed the protocol to approve the 29th. the country of montenegro. in the coming months, and year, i'll work closely with all of our nato allies to enhance this partnership and to adapt to the challenge challenges of the future of which there will be many. this includes upgrading nato to focus on today's most pressing security and all of its challenges including migration and terrorism. we must also work together to resolve the disaster currently taking place in syria. we are grateful for the support of nato members and partners in
their condemnation of assad's murderous attack using the most horrible weapons. vicious slaughter of innocent civilians with chemical weapons including the barbaric killing of small and helpless children and babies must be forcefully rejected by any nation that values human life. it is time to end this brutal civil war, defeat terrorists and allow refugees to return home. in facing our common challenges, we must also ensure that nato members meet their financial obligations and pay what they owe. many have not been doing that. the secretary general and i agree that other member nations must satisfy their responsibility to contribute 2% of gdp to defense if other countries pay their fair share instead of relying on the united
states to make up the difference, we will all be much more secure and our partnership will be made that much stronger. the secretary general and i had a productive discussion about what more nato can do in the fight against terrorism. i complained about that a long time ago and they made a change and now they do fight terrorism. i said it was obsolete. it's no longer obsolete. it's my hope that nato will take on an increased role in supporting our iraqi partners in their battle against isis. i'm also sending general mcmaster to afghanistan to find out how we can make progress alongside our afghan partners and nato allies. every generation has strived to adapt the nato alliance to meet the challenges of their times
and in my visit to brussels this spring, which i look very much forward to, we will work together to do the same. we must not be trapped by the tired thinking that so many have but apply new solutions to face new circumstances and that's all throughout the world. we're not here to stand on ceremony but develop strategies to achieve safety, security and peace. we're here to protect the freedom and prosperity of our citizens and to give them the future they so richly deserve. secretary general, i'm honored to have you here today and to reaffirm our commitment to this alliance and to the enduring values that we proudly, and i mean very proudly, share. thank you very much. thank you for being here. thank you. >> thank you -- thank you so
much, sir, mr. president. we just had an excellent and very productive meeting and it's really an honor to meet you for the first time here in the white house. we agree that nato is a bedrock of security, both for europe and for the united states. two world wars and a cold war have taught us all that peace in europe is not only important for europeans, but is also important for the prosperity and the security of north america. so a strange nato is good for europe, but the strong nato is also good for the united states. and therefore, i welcome the very strong commitment of the united states to the security of europe. we see this commitment not only in words, but also in deeds. over the past months, thousands of u.s. troops have been
deploying to europe. a clear demonstration that america stands with allies to protect peace and defend our freedom. and yesterday you announced the completion of mont anything go in we thank you for that. in a more dangerous and more unpredictable world, it is important to have friends and allies and in nato, america has the best friends and the best allies in the world. together we represent half of the world's economic and military power. no other superpower has ever had such a strategic advantage. this makes the united states stronger and safer.
we saw that after the 9/11 attacks on the united states. that was the first time nato invoked our article 5 collective defense cost. allies sent planes to help patrol american skies and we launched nato's biggest military operation ever in afghanistan. hundreds of thousands of europeans and canadian soldiers have served shoulder to shoulder with american troops. more than 1,000 have paid the ultimate price. earlier today, i laid a wreath at arlington national cemetery in tribute to the fallen. it was a deeply moving experience. we owe it to our servicemen and
women to preserve the hard-earned gains we have made together in afghanistan. we were reminded of their sacrifice just this week when a u.s. soldier was killed there fighting isil. our mission in afghanistan is a major contribution to the fight against international terrorism. nato plays an important part to counter isil and nato provides support to coalition, with training for iraqi forces and their fight against terrorists and more intelligence sharing, and you're right, we have established a new division for intelligence which enhances our ability to fight terrorism and we're working together in the alliance to fight terrorism in an even more effective way. but we agreed today, you and i, that nato can and must do more
in the global fight against terrorism. in the fight against terrorism, training local forces is one of the best weapons we have. nato has the experience, the expertise and the staying power to make a real difference. and fighting terrorism will be an important topic when nato leaders meet in brussels in may. the other major topic will be fairer burden sharing in our alliance. and we have a thorough discussion on this issue today. and mr. president, i thank you for your attention to this issue. we are all seeing the effects of your strong focus on the importance of burden sharing in the alliance. we agree that allies need to redouble their efforts to meet the pledge we all made in 2014
to invest more in our alliance. it is is about spending more on defense, it is about delivering the capabilities we need and it is about contributing forces to nato missions and operations. this means cash capabilities and contributions. fair burden sharing has been my top priority since taking office. we have now turned a corner. in 2016 for the first time in many years, we saw an increase in defense spending across european allies and canada. a real increase of 3.8% or $10 billion more for our defense. we are now working to keep up the momentum including by developing national plans
outlining how to make good on what we agreed in 2014. we know that we all need to contribute our fair share because we need to keep our nations safe in a more dangerous world. we discussed many different topics during our meeting today including the horrendous use of chemical weapons in syria. any use of chemical weapons is unacceptab unacceptable, cannot go unanswered and those responsible must be held accountable. so, mr. president, thank you once again. i look forward to working with you to keeping the alliance strong and i look forward to welcoming you to brussels in may when heads of state and government and alliance meet there to address the challenges and the need to continue to adapt the alliance to a more challenging security environment and to respond both to the need
for fair burden sharing and stepping up our efforts to fight international terrorism. so, thank you, once again. >> thank you very much. great. thank you. so we'll have a couple of questions. jeff mason? >> thank you. thank you, mr. president. i'd like to ask you about two topics, if i may. first, has your view of vladimir putin changed after what's happened in syria? and what is the united states prepared to do if he continues to support assad? and on a separate question, have you made a deal after your chat last night with the president of china about china helping to rein in north korea? is that one reason you've decided not to label beijing a currency manipulator? for the -- >> i'll be speaking to -- yeah. you want to go ahead? go ahead. >> may i? for the secretary general, do you believe nato should continue to bolster its presence along the alliance's eastern border and do you have -- are you confident that you have president trump and the united states' support for that?
thank you. >> i'll be speaking with rex tillerson in a little while. calling in. i think he had a very successful meeting in russia. we'll see. see the end result which will be in a long period of time, perhaps, but the end result is what's most important. not just talk. and i think that based on everything i'm hearing, things went pretty well. maybe better than anticipated. it would be wonderful as we were discussing just a little while ago if nato and our country could get along with russia. right now we're not getting along with russia at all. we may be at an all-time low in terms of relationship with russia. this has built for a long myriad of ti period of time. we're going to see what happens. putin is the leader of russia. russia is a strongountry. we're a very, very strong country. we're going to see how that all works out. last night, separately, i spoke
with a man that i've gotten to know. i don't know putin, but i do know this gentleman. i've spent a lot of time with him over the last two days and he is the president of china. you were there, most of you were there, and it was quite an interesting period of time. president xi wants to do the right thing. we had a very good bonding. i think we had a very good chemistry together. i think he wants to help us with north korea. we talked trade. we talk a lot of things. and i said the way you're going to make a good trade deal is to help us with north korea. otherwise we're just going to go it alone, that will be all right, too. but going it alone means going it with lots of other nations. but i was very impressed with president xi and i think he means well and i think he wants to help. we'll see whether or not he does. >> you feel like you have a deal
with him? and if i could just -- do you feel like you have a deal with him in terms of the currency manipulation designation and have your views changed on putin? >> we're going to see. we're going to see about that. and i'll also see about putin over a period of time. be a fantastic thing if we got along with putin and if we got along with russia, and that could happen and it may not happen. it may be just the opposite. i can only tell you what i would like to do. i would love to be able to get along with everybody. right now the world is a mess, but i think by the time we finish, i think it's going to be a lot better place to live and i can tell you that speaking for se, by the time i'm finished, it's gng to be a lot better place to live in because right now, it's nasty. >> nato is in the process of implementing the biggest reinforcement of our collective defense since the cold war and one element of that is to increase our military presence in the eastern part of the
alliance and we're now deploying four battle groups to the three baltic countries and poland and also been more u.s. forces in that part of europe and this is the first time in many, many years that we see an increase in the military presence of the united states in europe. so we are inkprecreasing our presence and we're also increasing the readiness and the prepa preparedness of forces to quickly reinforce if needed. we consider the presence we will have when the four battle groups are in place as sufficient given the current security situation in europe. but of course, we will assess the situation and follow the developments very closely. the message from nato is that what we do is proportionate. it is defensive and we don't want a new cold war. we don't want a new arms race. and actually we strongly believe there is no contradiction between a strong nato, a
credible deterrence on defense and political dialogue with russia. actually we believe that the precondition for the political dialogue with russia is that we are strong and that we are united, but based on that, we can talk to russia because russia's our neighbor, russia's there to stay so we have to find ways to manage our relationship with russia. and i am absolutely certain that united states supports this approach. partly because the united states is contributing with forces to enhance the presence in eastern part of the alliance and also in the southeast of the alliance in ronia and unitestates and the president has clearly expressed that they want dialogue with russia, but based on unity and strength in the alliance. then the next question is from john. >> and thank you very much. secretary general, how long do you think it will take you to persuade the other european countries to burden share? and what are you going to do to
persuade them? mr. president, could i ask you -- >> i like that question. >> i'm here to help. and mr. president, do you think it's conceivable, what's your instinct, was it possible that syrian forces could have launched that attack? idlib last week without the russians knowing? and have you been disappointed, surprised by vladimir putin's reaction since then? thank you very much. >> i think it's certainly possible. i think it's probably unlikely, and i know they're doing investigations into that right now. i would like to think that they didn't know, but certainly they could have. they were there. so we'll find out. general mattis is looking into it with the entire pentagon group that does that kind of work. so, it was very disappointing to see. it's disappointing to minority what does it, but when you get
into the gases, especially that form, it's vicious and violent and everybody in this room saw it all too many times over the last three or four days. young children dying. babies dying. fathers holding children in their arms that were dead. dead children. there can't be a worse sight and it shouldn't be allowed. that's a butcher. that's a butcher. so i felt we had to do something about it. i have absolutely no doubt we did the right thing, and it was very, very successfully done as you well know. thank you. >> on defense spending and burden sharing, that has been my top priority. i have raised it in all my meetings in all capitals. i visited with prime minministe minister of finance and also defense foreign minister s. i expect all allies to make good
on what they decided back in 2014 and the very strong and clear message from president trump has been very helpful so now we see that things are starting to move in the right direction. for the first time after many, many years of decline in defense spending, we now see an increase in defense spending across europe and canada. so they have started to move in the right direction. 3.8% real increase defense spending across europe and canada is a significant step in the right direction. it's not enough -- we still have a long way to go but at least they have turned a corner, european allies have turned a corner instead of reducing defense spending, they started to increase defense spending. then i think it is important to remember that this is something the europeans do because they know that this is in their own security interest. it is in their interest to invest more in european defense because the wod habeme more danrous. many yumpeuropean allies -- all
european allies reduced spending after the cold war because tensions went down. if you're decreasing defense spending when tensions are going down, you have to increase the defense spending when tensions are going up and now they are going up. so we have still a long way to go, but i'm encouraged by the fact that we have started to move in the right direction and last year five allies spending 2%. this year romania declared they will reach 2%, next year, lithuania will reach 2%. we go from five to eight which is at least going the right direction but still we have some work to do. >> and i did ask about all the money that hasn't been paid over the years, will that money be coming back? we'll be talking about that. we want to talk about that, too. anita, where are you? hi.
mcclatchy. hi. >> can you talk a little bit about the reaction to china -- were you aware that was going to happen, talking about that, give you a heads-up, and how does that affect the relationship? >> we did talk last night. i think it's wonderful that they abstained, as you know, very few people expected that and, no, i was not surprised that china did abstain. very, very pplthght that was going to happen. we're honored by the vote. that's the vote that should have taken place. >> you talked a little bit about moscow about russia. their impression in general, in interfering in the recent democratic election. how do you counter moscow -- >> the most important thing is to have a strong alliance to stay united and be firm and predictable in our approach to russia. and that means we have to invest
in our collective defense. that's exactly what we're doing. deploy more troops in eastern part of the alliance, increase the readiness of our forces and increase defense spending. i welcome the very strong message from president trump on the importance of increased defense spending. we have started to do this. so we are implementing the biggest reinforcement of collective defense since the end of the cold war. providing credible deterrents. but at the same time, we have to find ways to engage with russia, to talk with russia because russia will not go away. russia will be our biggest neighbor and we have to find ways to live with them and try to avoid a new cold war and new arms race. that's exactly why i am very much in favor of what we call the dual-track approach to rush ha. as a former norwegian politician, i have the experience of working with russians because norway is bordering russia and norway was able to even during the cold war to develop i call a pragmatic working relationship with
russia. cooperating with them on energy, border issues, on environment, on fishery and also in military affairs and that was not despite our membership in nato, but it was because of our membership in nato because nato provided the strength, the predictability, the platform, for a small country to have a political dialogue with russia. so i strongly believe that the only way to deter russia is to be strong, but the only way to avoid a new cold war, avoid a new arms race and avoid increasing tensions is to coinue tengage russia in a political dialogue and make sure what we do is defensive and proportionate in response to a more assertive russia. >> okay. >> thank you. mr. president, i'm from norway. russia is our neighboring country. what do you think europe has to fear from russia if this tension
continues? >> say it? >> what do you think european countries have to fear from russia if this tension continues? >> i cannot hear -- >> i'll do it again. what do you think russia -- what do you think european countries have to fear from russia if this tension continues to escalate? and for you, mr. secretary general, the president has said the attack in syria last week was warranted and also an attack on u.s. allies. do you think this attack was warranted and do you see nato playing any supporting role in future actions in syria? >> well, i want to just start by saying hopefully they're going to have to fear nothing, ultimately. right now there is a fear and there are problems, certainly problems, but ult pimately i ho there won't be a fear and won't be problems and the world can get along. that would be the ideal situation. it's crazy what's going on, whether it's the middle east or you look at no matter where the ukraine, you look at -- whatever you look at, it's got problems.
so many problems. and ultimately, i believe that we are going to get rid of most of those problems and there won't be fear of anybody. that's the way it should be. we have a very big problem in north korea. as i said, i really think that china's going to try very hard and hasstarted. a lot of the votes have already been turned back. you saw that yesterday. today they've been turned back, the vast amount of coal that comes out of nor koreaoing to china, they've turned back the votes. that's a big step and many other steps i know about. we'll see what happens. it may be effective, it may not be effective. if it's not effective, we will be effective. i can promise you that. thank you. >> nato has constantly condemned the use of chemical weapons in syria, and the use of chemical weapons is horrendous and it's a clear violation of international
law. and any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and cannot go unanswered. so those responsible must be held accountable. the strike against air base in syria was a u.s. operation based on u.s. intelligence, but you have seen that within the alliance, this has been something which has been met with a lot of understanding because nato allies do not accept that chemical weapons are used and, therefore, we also strongly support the efforts of the fact-finding commission to try to find out actually what happened and to make sure that we don't see any use of chemical weapons in the future. >> okay. thank you very much. thank you.
>> both leaders now exiting the east room after taking a few questions from members of the combined press corps. let's just review some of the quotes. in addition to promising the world will be a better place, absent fear, when the trump years in the white house are over. we may be at an all-time low in terms of our relationship with russia." about the esidt of china, "we had a very good bonding. we talked trade. we talk a lot of things." but notably this. "the world is a mess." he used the word, "nasty." "whatever you look at, it's got problems, so many problems." on syria, "when you get into the gases, it's vicious. it's violent." he talked about assad as a butcher. he, again, used the imagery of
dead babies. and interesting tour of parts of the world, about nato, notably, in his opening statement, we don't know if it was written or ad libbed, donald trump said about nato, "i said it was obsolete, it's no longer obsolete." perhaps white house correspondent peter alexander can help us wade through some of what we just witnessed. peter? >> reporter: brian, was struck by the sort of rhetorical reverses we witnessed when you compare president trump to candidate trump. nato he said was obsolete, he now says it's not obsolete. earlier today one of the campaign promises, he said the dollar is too stlorong and no longer going to label china a currency manipulator. he changed positions, excuse me, on the xm bank. the only place where he seems to be remain steady is his unwillingness to criticize vladimir putin. what was striking is the use of the word, "butcher," to describe
syrian president bashar al assad. but as for putin, he said that while this relationship is at an all-time low, he still has hopes that things will improve. the question is, after 83 days in office right now, who deserves the blame for this relationship being at the all-time low? his administration has so far not been able to turn that relationship around. >>nd peter, let's note that a lot of journists and historians are going to quarrel th the president's depiction that in the modern era of the u.s./russian relationship is right now, today, at an all-time low. >> reporter: yeah,hyperbole. something we witnessed over the course of much of this time. not surprising he said it's never been worse than it has now. which would tee it up for improveme improvements. in the past he talked about the relationship he had to vladimir putin. today once again, he said i don't know him. so there's a lot to parse out of what he said today, but i think
the biggest most striking thing is as the president told us in the rose garden a couple days ago during his visit here with the king of jordan, he said that he is flexible, those comments were in advance of the cruise missile strikes that took place in syria. we are now witnessing more of that flexibility on so many topics. >> peter alexander, east room of the white house, peter, thank you very much. let's go across the pond, richard engel, chief foreign corresponde correspondent, is in our london bureau. richard, what was it like listening to and watching the president from the perspective of being overseas? >> reporter: well, what a different president he's turning out to be than the candidate. effectively he was saying we're not just going to make america great again, we're going to make the whole world great again and going back to the russia relationship, what has happened over the last few days is quite significant because if there is one thing that, frankly, no world leader but particularly vladimir putin does not like, he does not like to be embarrassed and he was just embarrassed twice.
first of all, the u.s. support for montenegro joining nato. it's a tiny country but russia absolutely loathes any expansion of nato and it's happening right now. that's one point. the second was, the uted states just launched cruise missiles at one of russia's close allies. he's become a problematic ally, but he was a thumb in putin's face. so the question is, how is russia going to respond? the meetings in moscow still did take place. i think if russia was absolutely furious, those meetings probably would have been canceled. russia did do something significant and it suspended that hotline that u.s. and russia use to communicate about military actions in syria. and that is effectively daring the united states to do another military action because that hotline prevents any kind of miscommunication from happening.
by russia suspending the hotline saying if you do another military strike, there could be unpredictable and catastrophic consequences. but you have to look at from vladimir putin's perspective right now, and imagine how it's playing to his home audience. a new u.s. president, a new u.s. president that was portrayed around the world as something of a buffoon, a businessman who knew nothing about world politics, just came in and in the course of a couple of days thumbed his nose as putin twice. we'll see how that plays out. >> richard engel in our london newsroom. as part of our coverage. richard, thanks. to and degree to andrea mitchell, let's talk for a moment about history. this is the anniversary of the death of fdr, georgia, 1945, a man who used his sunny exterior to lift americans up through depression, world war, a titanic struggle for freedom over
tyranny. from the president today, "the world is a mess. it's nasty. by the end of the trump yea the world will be a much better place." and notably for the time you and i have been alive and aware, "we may be at an all-time low in terms of our relationship with russia." other people, andrea, have written and spoken about the fact that it seems his clock started, history started when donald trump was elected because as a nonreader of history, he has been dealing with his business career and other realms as opposed to other people who come to office. i'm just wondering what your thoughts are on all of this. >> reporter: it's so interesting to be here, again, with vladimir putin rising triumphant as richard engel said with the domestic audience, but challenged economically, hurting from those sanctions over ukraine, but thinking that he was going to frame a
relationship with this new president and that he could take advantage of donald trump and not being able to yet. and in fact, trump today being more negative about putin than at any time for his sponsorship and embrace of assad who the president today called an animal. called him that twice. here, rex tillerson also a businessman, who had a very good relationship with putin and was awarded the medal of friendship here, coming and saying that he thinks that this is a low point in the u.s./russia relationship and the foreign ministry says, as these meetings started today, this was the lowest point since the cold war. well, i was here during the cold war. that was pretty low and there were nuclear weapons trained against each other, the two countries. long-range missiles. as well as medium-range missiles all over europe. that said, there is a lot of tension and it stems from the
syria problem, the ukraine problem and from the perspective of rex tillerson, frankly, and a lot of people in capitol hill, republican and democratic, the russian hacking of the u.s. election. whether it had a result or not, can be debated forever. the fact is they did do it according to the intelligence agencies and the president has never acknowledged that. tillerson did. he raised it, it seemed, almost incidentally today. this, today, was all about syria. he met with putin for two hours. putin kept him waiting as he's kept john kerry and hillary clinton and others waiting before. but in this case, it wasn't even clear that there was going to be a meeting but they did meet late in the day for two hours. tillerson now is going to spend another night in moscow because it's too late to go home because of that delay. but it seemed as though they could not agree on syria. they did agree at least he seemed to be saying today that assad is the person responsible. he glossed over a question as to whether he still believes what he said only ten days ago that
russia was either complicit or incompetent in not preventing the attack and not guaranteeing that those chemicals were destroyed as they promised in 2013. russia was on that base and i thought that was really interesting with the president's comments today when he acknowledged an answer to a question that russia is embedded on that base and he said i hope they didn't know, i trust they didn't know, they could have known, they were there, but the investigation will find out whether or not that took place. both sides today agreeing here that the u.n. will investigate. of course, russia has a veto over the progress of any u.n. investigation. brian? >> andrea mitchell traveling with the secretary of state in moscow tonight. andrea, thank you. to ambassador nick burns we go. a 27-year veteran of the foreign service. at one time the number three ranking official as undersecretary at the state department. and importantly, a veteran of the nato effort as well.
ambassad ambassador, hold today up against the backdrop of history, you hear a quote like "we may be at an all-time low in terms of our relationship with russia," how do you fit that through your filter? >> well, it's not an all tooichl low. all-time low would have been the cold war or the soviet union. brian, i think it is the lowest point in the relationship with russia since the end of the cold war. and the creation of modern russia in december 1991. rex tillerson said that today in his press conference. president trump said it. and it speaks to the reality, brian. russia has annexed crimea and occupied it, russia is occupying and disturbing the peace in eastern ukraine and obviously stoking up violence and russia has been aligning itself with assad in syria, has been indiscriminately bombing civilians there. it's trying to cut the united states down to size all over the world. it's our greatest adversary. and finally we have, after a year and a half of donald trump
talking about some kind of a mo honeymoon with vladimir putin, we have reality that has hit home here. it's the first day in the administration of donald trump i think that we have a clear view of the reality of this relationship. >> and in a larger context, let's fold in north korea. how dangerous a place is the world right now in all the years you've been in the business? >> i think north korea, the fact they have nuclear weapons, the fact that kim jong-un has been so unreasonable is the number one security problem the united states faces in the world today and it was interesting, brian, when president trump was asked about his relationship with president putin, he didn't criticize putin. he quickly then said, let me tell you about my relations withresident xi jinping and prsepresident xi jinping three, four times, the fact he wanted to help, he was reasonable. he's clearly counting on xi
jinping to use thain chchina's influence, provide all the food, the coal for north korea's energy. we'll see if that happens. president obama and president george w. bush fried the same thing and couldn't get results. i think ft. trump is right to try this and it was interesting he downplayed the putin relationship and he really played up his relationship from mar-a-lago, the phone call last night with president xi jinping. >> here's trump on the current situation in the world. "you look at it, wherever you look at it, it's got problems. so many problems and ultimately i believe we're going to get rid of most of those problems and there won't be fear of anybody." your reaction? >> well, i wish we could live in such a world. this is a complex environment. the president should be careful not to overreach in delivering the american people what he can deliver on. it was an interesting day, brian, because finally after 18 days of donald trump saying nato
is obs lolete he said today nat is no longer obsolete. after 18 months when he said nato is not fighting terrorism, he said nato is now fighting terrorism. the fact is, brian, nato has been fighting terrorism since it entered afghanistan in 2003, but nonetheless, it was good to hear these words. what we may be seeing is a recentering of this administration. it's a deeply divided administration ideologically between the bannon wing, the radical wing in the right, and the establishment figures. mattis and mcmaster and tillerson and maybe that central group with the president's son-in-law, jared kushner, is beginning to get to the president and really speak the truth and get him to understand how important nato is to the united states. how important it is that we have a working relationship with china. we saw echos of that today. >> want too back to something you touched on in the previous answer, do you think there's an effort to play china and his relationship with xi? he used the word, "bonding."
"we talked trade, we talk a lot of things." against russia, putin. >> i do. if you think back, brian, to henry kissinger's famous triangulation in 1972, the opening to china, it was strengthening our relationship with china in order to leverage the russians. the soviets. in many ways. and time after time in the last few days, we've seen very tough rhetoric by rex tillerson against the russians accusing them of possibly being complicit in the use of sarin gas with the syrians. saying, even rex tillerson said that they interfered in our election. so a very tough line against russia, a very soft, friendly, conciliatory line against china. i think that's what is happening. i think trump feels he's got an opening with china and really not much business to do with putin at this time. >> every day brings something new. you need a compass, a map, a slide, a stopwatch, all of it to cover the changes and that's just the new administration.
say nothing of the wider world. ambassador nick burns, always a pleasure to have you as a part of our coverage. thank you. >> thank you. >> a break in our coverage. we're back to continue our live coverage right after this. ain. this is the new new york. we are building new airports all across the state. new roads and bridges. new mass transit. new business friendly environment. new lower taxes. and new university partnerships to grow the businesses of tomorrow today. len more at esd.ny.gov
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i said it was obsolete. it is no longer obsolete. >> well, perhaps cause for celebration at nato headquarters and for the visiting nato secretary general. let's talk about exactly what we just witnessed. a rare opportunity to hear from the president, his eighth exchange with reporters. i won't call it a full blown news conference. he's only had one solo news conference as president but seven others have been because of and alongside visiting leaders. robert costa, reporter of "washington post" with us, michael who covers for politico is with us and hugh hewitt is with us. the robert, what about the quote we just opened with. i said it was objection leasole. are we possibly a wednesday in
april seeing a change in thinking in world view, a change inside the west wing? >> brian, the president's remarks were infused with faith and an embrace of global institutions, the same ones like nato that he railed against during presidential campaign. and this change of tone, this change in commentary reflects what's happening inside the west wing. the move away in some parts from the national pitch has been championed by steve bannon and toward had more global view that mcmaster, the national security adviser, different members of the cabinet, and his son-in-law, jared kushner. >> why is it so important for him to stay world is a mess, it has problems, so many problems? >> well, there's some truth to it. it is also a convenient way of
blaming his predecessor for really complicated issues he is facing that in some cases are probably going to get worse before they get better. so syria, north korea, any number of other problems, that are difficult to solve, one way to explain why he is not making faster problem on they will of boy, barack obama really messed things up. he used to talk about the problems inherited from president bush. more on the first quote that you opened with. i'm pretty sure that what trump is referring to is something that happened in august that he talked about before. he said that nato didn't do enough to fight terrorism. in august they appoint ad new official who is a new intelligence coordinator. and even at that time, trump took credit for that and said now they're changing their
mission. it is because of trump and i like nato better. this isn't as new as it seems. they've looked at and it said that had nothing to do with trump and wasn't a major change in the mission. mab maybe a lot of ado without nothing. >> whatever change he claims to have seen inside nato, he is going with it and he has declared as of today, it is no longer obsolete. hugh hewitt, here's what the president said when asked what the people of europe would have to fear from their neighbor russia. i want to start by saying hopefully they're going to have to fear nothing ultimately. but right now there is fear and there is problems. certainly problems. ultimately i hope there won't be fear and problems and the world can get along. again, wherever you look at it, it has problems, sole problems
and ultimately i believe we will get rid of most of their problems a tre won't be a fear of anybody. your reaction. >> it was a very positive statement about the president and something he aspires to. something reagan might have said about what he hoped to leave behind in '88. i paid attention to what secretary general stoltenberg said. twi twice, he noted they had gone from five countries with 5% on gdp on defense to 8. he noted that president trump had been very supportive and he noted, he referenced his past experience as prime minister of norway and how difficult it is to in this russian relationship. so i think what we saw is donald trump growing in office, into leader the of the atlantic alliance. meeting with people who are very well experienced with russia,
and being very clear that he is not going to close the door to a good relationship with russia. but it is be going to be on easy terms for putin. i noticed he is sending general mcmaster to afghanistan. that's significant. it reminds me of the afghanistan review that president obama undertook in 2009. that's a nato mission as well. nato is no longer obsolete. music to my ears. >> and can that mr. bannon could not have entered more visibly and taken his seat in the front row. what do you think is at work with him? >> that i believe the president's new york post interview was quite clearly a message to mr. bannon and to everyone in the west wing that first among equals is jared kushner and ivanka trump. so fix relationships with jared kushner and ivanka trump. and i would defer to mr. acosta on this and others. i got that out of new york post
interview and i believe mr. bannon, don't know him. i think he is smart and capable and has a point of view in a west wing as diverse as it is. but that message in the new york post interview was very, very clear. first among equals, jared kushner. >> and robert costa, i thought reading the new york post quotes, it was the the manaforting of bannon. he wasn't with us very long. i had already beaten the senators and governors and besides i was my own strategist. >> that's what the president is expressing. he is reminding peel in a nudge in a way to bannon and his network inside and outside the white house. the president's view, he's been where he was on trade and immigration. that bannon came in as the strategist at the end. but trump wants troe mind peel. sometimes he likes thood through tabloids. that he is not a puppet of the
strategists. i am told bannon was in the oval office, and you see him there in the first row. so sometimes trump embraces the chaos. he doesn't make moves yet. we'll have to see if he becomes like manafort and let's say he leaves. we'll see. >> i am bound to get 30 seconds from out north korea of tillerson appears this moscow today and says the carrier battle group is always hanging around the pacific and nothing to see here. last night the president used the word armada to talk about the fire power churning en route. which one should we believe? >> i think it is a little hard to know. the answer might be both. in other words, i think trump's strategy to have kim jong-un and the north korean leadership guessing our intentions. is this the beginning of him throwing a punk or a maneuver would you see from other
administrations? it is psychological and the mixed messages might be strategic or accidentally useful. >> such a useful conversation coming out of white house. i want to thank our guests, all of them, the very best in the business. we're going to join at this point "meet the press" daily, chris jansing anchoring for chuck todd. >> if it's wednesday of the. >> power play. the president tries on get his foreign policy agenda on track. the white house power center shifts. how could it reshape the world view in plus a matter of trust. >> there is a low level of trust between our two countries. >> had if secretary of state addition goes face to face with putin of the will. >> the world two most powers cannot have this relationship. >> and georgia on our minds. we'll walk the a congressional